Merry Christmas from Krakow

Emma admires the cute little Xmas trees on sale in Krakow's market.

Christmas Eve has sort of snuck up on us here in Eastern Europe.  It’s tough to be a foreigner in a foreign land this time of year—are there any Christmas songs not about being home for the holidays?  So, our strategy is to go somewhere interesting to keep our minds off the fact that Santa probably can’t find us.  Krakow is an amazing city with lots to see and experience, and—as a bonus—they celebrate Christmas here in December like we’re used to.

We had a surreal experience at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

We’ve had some time in Krakow to learn about Jewish culture and history, and we spent a full day at nearby Auschwitz.  That was a very sobering experience that can’t be boiled down into a few words.  Suffice it to say it makes you think a lot about human nature.

Yesterday we visited the Wieliczka salt mine, an underground labyrinth mined continuously for 700 years.  It’s an amazing place that’s understandably listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  There’s at least one more museum and some more cool sites for us to check out in the next couple of days.

You don't need a salt shaker in the salt mines—just rub your fry on the wall.

Our hostel has some fun Christmas activities planned for tonight and tomorrow, so we’ll be celebrating with other travelers from all over the world.  After that, we found a little place to go in the Tatra mountains of Slovakia for a couple days, followed by New Years in a random Czech town that actually doesn’t overcharge for the holiday.  We’ll be back “home” on the third.

As a side note, we’ve been overwhelmed by your support of the “Our Sofievka” project!  We’ve already raised 75% of the needed funding, which is amazing!  We look forward to telling our project partners and friends about it – what a nice New Year’s gift it will be to them!  (If you don’t know what we’re talking about, please check out the appropriate link at the top of the page.)

Happy Christmas to you and your families!  Sending you love and blessings from Eastern Europe!

Enjoying some hot wine in Krakow's main square with fellow PCVs.
Alex decides between fight and flight when he runs into the Krakow dragon.

7 thoughts on “Merry Christmas from Krakow”

  1. Greaat post! Wishing you two a Merry Christmas. We miss you both and look forward to next year when hopefully we’ll get to see you around the holidays. Love you!

  2. Just spare a thought for all the dyslexic children around the world who will lay awake in bed tonight, worried sick about having Satan climb down their chimney.

  3. Emma and Alex, I’m so sorry I missed you when you spoke with Mom and Anna earlier today. I’ll be here when we skype you Christmas morning (our time). I love your blog. Yes, I can only imagine your experience Auschwitz. It’s painful enough to walk through the Holocaust Museum in D.C. I admire you for immersing yourself in so dehumanizing an environment. Great news about your project funding! Well done! I’m looking forward to hearing about the progress in the months to come. We, too, will miss having your with us Christmas day. As Mom undoubtedly told you, we’re going to the Wilson cabin for Christmas dinner. It will be a short trip since I have to preach Sunday morning. Take care. Merry Christmas!!!
    Much love,
    Papa Griffis

  4. С Рождеством Христовым из Северной Каролины с любовью!
    Love, Momma G.

  5. Well, we certainly miss spending Christmas with you – next year will be better! Great pictures. I can’t wait to hear about the Auschwitz experience. Do you prefer the salt flats of Bolivia or the Polish salt mines??? Congrats on the PCPP! Again, we miss you bunches. Love you! Ya tib ya lu blu.


  6. Christmas is Christmas no matter where you are! Enjoy Krakow, it looks so cute with the snow! I wanted to get to the Tatras but never made it down there.

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